By Staff

HAVERHILL (CBS) — A cigarette tossed out a window is being cited as the cause of a fire that destroyed a multi-family home in Haverhill on Monday afternoon while an 11-year-old boy was inside the building doing school work.

Investigators said they believe a smoker tossed cigarettes out of a third-floor window, setting the roof that extended out below the third floor or debris in the gutter on fire.

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The four-unit building on Jackson Street is a total loss. Nine residents were displaced.

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Christina Sheldon said her 11-year-old son Aaron was on the second floor. While doing his school work Aaron heard the fire alarm going off but didn’t think anything of it because that sometimes happened in the building. Soon he realized flames had broken out on the third floor, and he was able to safely escape.

“It is important to dispose of smoking materials safely, in an ashtray, or a can with sand or water. Especially at this time of year, winds can quickly fan cigarettes back to life in dried grass, leaves or mulch. Remember to put it out. All the way. Every time.” said Haverhill Fire Chief Robert O’Brien.

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The state Department of Fire Services has a public awareness campaign on preventing fires from the improper disposal of smoking materials. Staff